The Grandmaster Event

Easter Seminar from 11.-13.04.2020
at Großwallstadt Performance Centre.
Register now and get your early bird discount!



The sucker punch – an unfair surprise attack

Although it has been in common use in the street for a very long time, the term ”sucker punch“ from American slang only gained common currency in non English-speaking countries in 2011, when the American action fantasy film of the same name directed by Zack Snyder came to the cinemas. This made it known to the general public, though it takes its origin from boxing and refers to a rapid and unexpected attack.

The term can also be used as a verb: Jim sucker-punched him and knocked him out. Or it can be used in an extended sense to describe an unexpected setback in life. The film cited above is a good example of this.

For reasons of sporting fairness, a sucker punch is illegal in boxing. In 2017 Louis Adolphe committed the absolute sin of sucker-punching Nathan McIntosh in the Wembley Arena, and was promptly disqualified for it.

Coming your way soon … the sucker punch




There are no such rules of fairness on the street. This means that an attacker wants to cause damage, knock you out without further ado – with whatever it takes to achieve his objective. The sucker punch is statistically the most frequent type of attack on the street … and one of the most dangerous.

It almost always takes the form of a slightly curving punch that is not delivered in a wide arc like a normal roundhouse, but takes a much more direct path. As an added difficulty, it is usually delivered is a slightly downward direction with the victim’s chin as the target.

At this distance: Not like this!

What makes the sucker punch so dangerous:

  • Stress gives rise to tunnel vision, and it is easy to overlook curving attacks.
  • As the victim is often not really unaware of the danger, the arms are left hanging at the sides of the body and the hands are therefore not positioned in front for protection.
  • The attacker’s physical posture also makes it difficult to defend against a sucker punch. The danger is particularly acute if the attacker has one shoulder well forward – whether it is the left or right shoulder.
  • The attacker will often briefly touch the victim’s body with his hand, or grab his clothing. This is a warning sign, as the attacker is getting his range for the sucker punch that will knock the victim out – and it will follow almost immediately …
  • The attacker might use other tricks and distractions before delivering the punch.

As self-defence is the essential function of our WingTsun, we therefore need to take these attacks into account. How do we cope with them in the street, or in a bar? There is no universal solution, but we can take certain principles to heart to handle such an attack situation or if possible avoid it altogether. Accordingly these not immediately recognisable attacks must be a major part of our training.

One requirement that is right at the top of our to-do list is mindfulness. Here is a brief run-down of the aspects that can help against the sucker punch:

Much more promising for the intended victim!
  1. Mindfulness
    If we remain mindful, i.e. focus our attention, we can already avoid such situations before they arise.
    And it is absolutely essential if we are already being confronted by a potential attacker.
  2. Raise the hands to chest height
    If we find ourselves in a potentially dangerous situation, we are ready to launch our Blitz attacks!
  3. Adopt a favourable body position
  4. Train realistically and often
    There is no sense in merely practicing for such a scenario once or twice. We are bound to forget these exercises when things are serious. We need to practice as realistically and as often as possible! The good news for beginners is that the Blitz attacks are already part of the first student grade programmes. The good news for higher grades is that practicing them is no bad thing either!

How quickly you can get into a dangerous situation and which options you have, also shows the video below:


Stay mindful!

Your GM Thomas Schrön

Photos: mg